Erin Molta is a Senior Editor at Entangled Publishing. I’m lucky enough to be among her stable of writers: Callie Hutton, Vanessa Riley, Pamela Mingle, and Tara Kingston (to name a few). Erin doesn’t pull punches. Sometimes I think she asks the impossible, but when I sit down and work out her edits, the book becomes so much better. She’s a book doctor!
Erin works primarily with Regency but is looking for hot, sexy Highlander and Viking stories. She’s also seeking multicultural diverse stories in any era, and anything with high concept—revenge, boy next door—with alpha heroes and sassy heroines. Witty banter and humor is a plus!
I asked her a few questions about her process as an editor for Entangled.
JT: You probably get asked this question all the time, but for the record, is there a trope or hero type or storyline you find absolutely irresistible? Conversely, are there tropes that you find overused or just plain tiresome?
EM: My favorite tropes are boy next door/right under your nose trope and across the tracks. Realizing that someone you’ve known all along is the right person for you intrigues me and gives me hope as does the rich guy/poor girl (or vice versa) dynamic. Fake marriage/forced marriage trope seems to be overused and Entangled has a moratorium on those at the moment.
JT: When you consider a submission, do you read a pre-determined number of pages or do you know from page one whether the book appeals to you?
EM: I tend to read the whole thing, unless it’s really not for me—because…life is too short. If I like it and it’s not horribly written then I want to see how it ends and figure out if the author hits all the right buttons.
JT: I know I have a huge problem getting the titles and forms of address right with my historical novels (thank you for saving me). Are there other problematic areas you find authors have with respect to historical romance?
EM: That is actually my pet peeve—getting titles and forms of address correct. Because they are so different from now, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer of historical fiction you should be aware of the small details. But I also hate when authors try to sound hip and end up using contemporary slang in historical books. It’s jarring.
JT: Historical romance readers want absolute accuracy with respect to historical detail. At the same time, they enjoy strong female heroines even though we all know such characters were a rarity. Are there other aspects of history writers can tamper with and still maintain believability with their readers?
EM: Well, my fave trope is an example of that. The Lady and a groom ever getting together is slim to none. They were rarely, if ever, in any such proximity to form a relationship. And Victorian and Regency times were portrayed as such strict social separation between men and women so that a man and a woman in the same room alone could essentially ruin the woman (among the peers, of course) but behind the scenes such bawdiness occurred so that when romance writers give their hero and heroine such opportunities it’s still believable.
JT: If an author has a compelling story, can you overlook poor craft? Is that something you can work on with the author? Or is craft as much a priority with you as story?
EM: It’s rare that a fabulous concept comes across as poorly written but I can’t help bad writing. Again, life is too short. An author needs to come to an editor with their craft already honed. I can help with substance and structure and development and I’ll certainly line-edit but I don’t have time to rewrite poor writing.
JT: There’s a lot of talk about “high concept” within the romance market. How do you describe “high concept” and do you think it’s as applicable to historical romance as it is to other romance subgenres?
EM: High concept basically means a fresh take on familiar tropes/themes. A new way to tell the boy meets girl, they fall in love story. It’s applicable to historical in that I’m looking for a fresh take on tried and true tropes such as marriage out of social status, mistaken identity, or enemies to lovers.
JT: I know that Entangled editors engage in creative meetings where they present books for consideration. How do you go about championing a novel you like?
EM: The first thing I have to do is write a compelling blurb. Basically, I’m selling the book and trying to get other editors excited about it. That’s why I need the synopsis and log lines from authors, so that I can have enough material to work with.
JT: People in the marketing industry talk about concepts as “sticky” as in the idea stays with you, captures your attention, or tickles your imagination. What aspect of a novel is “sticky” for you? Character? Emotion? Concept? All of the above?
EM: I am a sucker for compelling characters and a smart, sassy author voice. If you can make me cry, that’s a bonus—though nowadays, I cry at TV commercials, it takes a lot to make me cry while reading J
JT: Entangled accepts un-agented submissions. What cautionary advice would you give to an author submitting to you for the first time?
EM: Don’t send me contemporary or paranormal romance. I am primarily looking for Regency, Highlanders, Vikings, and Medieval stories. Sorry, no American historical or even WWII era. Otherwise, if you think I might like it, assign my name on the Submittable form and tell me what the conflict of your story is in one sentence. That’s it. Pretty easy 😉